Rationale: [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography ([18F]FDG-PET) has been widely used as an imaging technique to measure interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT) activity. However, it is challenging to obtain iBAT-specific images using [18F]FDG-PET because increased uptake of [18F]FDG is observed in tumors, muscle, and inflamed tissues. Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in the mitochondrial membrane, a well-known molecular marker of BAT, has been proposed as a useful BAT imaging marker. Recently, the UCP1 ThermoMouse was developed as a reporter mouse for monitoring UCP1 expression and investigating BAT activation. In addition, Translocator protein-18 kDa (TSPO) located in the outer mitochondrial membrane is also overexpressed in BAT, suggesting that TSPO-targeting PET has potential for iBAT imaging. However, there are no studies monitoring BAT using TSPO-targeting PET probes in the UCP1 ThermoMouse. Moreover, the non-invasive Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) using Cerenkov radiation from the PET probe has been proposed as an alternative option for PET as it is less expensive and user-friendly. Therefore, we selected [18F]fm-PBR28-d2 as a TSPO-targeting PET probe for iBAT imaging to evaluate the usefulness of CLI in the UCP1 ThermoMouse.
Methods: UCP1 ThermoMouse was used to monitor UCP1 expression. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were performed to measure the level of protein expression. [18F]fm-PBR28-d2 and [18F]FDG were used as radioactive probes for iBAT imaging. PET images were acquired with SimPET, and optical images were acquired with IVIS 100.
Results: UCP1 ThermoMouse showed that UCP1 and TSPO expressions were correlated in iBAT. In both PET and CLI, the TSPO-targeting probe [18F]fm-PBR28-d2 was superior to [18F]FDG for acquiring iBAT images. The high molar activity of the probe was essential for CLI and PET imaging. We tested the feasibility of TSPO-targeting probe under cold exposure by imaging with TSPO-PET/CLI. Both signals of iBAT were clearly increased after cold stimulation. Under prolonged isoflurane anesthesia, TSPO-targeting images showed higher signals from iBAT in the short-term than in long-term groups.
Conclusion: We demonstrated that TSPO-PET/CLI reflected UCP1 expression in iBAT imaging better than [18F]FDG-PET/CLI under the various conditions. Considering convenience and cost, TSPO-CLI could be used as an alternative TSPO-PET technique for iBAT imaging.